“People love stories”

As someone who now delivers the news via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, I read with interest this story by Maria Konnikova in the Jan. 21, 2014 edition of The New Yorker.

The headline–THE SIX THINGS THAT MAKE STORIES GO VIRAL WILL AMAZE, AND MAYBE INFURIATE, YOU–made me groan. It sounds like a take-off on all of those annoying click-bait, Upworthy-like headlines that are becoming so common. The only thing they now have going for them is their ubiquity. Maybe so many sites are trying to do it that maybe we will all get tired of it, stop clicking on them, and they will go away? We can only hope so.

As for the article, it’s quite good. Call me a sucker for any article that quotes the Wall Street Journal, Aristotle, and someone from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. And it’s not only solidly sourced, it makes several good points. Aristotle tells us that great speeches include ethos, pathos, and logos. The Wharton School researchers tell us that shareable articles are often have a positive message and that they excite the reader. Konnikova writes that making people “feel that they’re not only smart but in the know” helps, as does the “presence of a memory-inducing trigger.”

And, finally, my favorite: “A final predictor of success is the quality of the story itself. ‘People love stories. The more you see your story as part of a broader narrative, the better,’ Berger says.”

Hop on over to The New Yorker and read the whole post.

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